Conde Nast Traveler recently announced its 2023 Top 10 Best Hawaii Hotels chosen by its readers and we’re excited to have been a part of four hotels on the list, including the top two. We’ve applied our technical knowledge and skill not only to hotels in Hawaii but also on the U.S. mainland and internationally. Hospitality design often comes with challenges, especially in urban areas with constraints like tight sites, zero lot lines, easements, and other issues of building in crowded cities. For nature resorts, to achieve an intimate, secluded atmosphere, commercial construction can be combined with residential-style framing for guest rooms, and use of heavy timber or steel can open large areas to the environment.
Number one on Conde Nast’s list is this 900,000 SF development with two complementary 38-story towers atop an eight-story parking podium with swimming pools, a café and sky lobby. The project was encumbered by height limits, easements, a large wastewater pump station, and truck maneuvering areas under the building. These demanding conditions required long spans with maximized clear heights, offset foundations and columns, and transfer girders to transfer tower walls and columns onto a different set of podium level columns and walls. 7″-thin slabs in the parking and tower levels allowed the project to maximize the number of floors within Waikiki’s 350-foot height limit.
This hotel at number two on Conde Nast’s list squeezes 39 floors into a mandated height limit of only 350 feet. The height constraints were achieved with 6″-thin slabs through most of the building that resulted in a very efficient structure requiring only 6.1 lbs per square foot of reinforcing steel and 0.56 lbs per square foot of post-tension tendons. When compared to the average reinforcing steel rates of other Hawaii high-rises of 8.0 lbs per square foot reinforcing steel and 0.70 lbs of post-tension tendons, the equivalent savings to the client by this efficiency was estimated at over $2 million. (On Nov. 10 it was announced that it will be reborn as Wakea Waikiki Beach under Hilton’s LXR luxury brand.)
This luxury resort opened in 2023 and made the top 10 at number eight. This was a full renovation and rebranding of the existing St. Regis Princeville Resort. Improvements include reimagining of guestrooms and public areas, the addition of lanais and an infinity pool. The guest arrival experience was enhanced by the addition of a striking heavy-timber porte cochere that leads guests through an open wood-framed corridor along a courtyard filled with indigenous plants. The courtyard is a green roof built atop an existing structure.
This 4.5-star, 242-room hotel is the hospitality component of The Plaza Coral Gables, a revitalization of Coral Gables’ business district that also includes Class A office space, retail, and residential components. BASE provided developer Agave Holdings with a variety of services including value engineering, tenant improvement, and renovation recommendations for the project’s centerpiece, the 1925 Arts Center.
Located in the charming Chicago neighborhood of Old Town, the design team was tasked with incorporating the traditions of the surrounding architecture while providing the convenience and luxury of a modern hotel. The greatest design challenge was minimizing the imposing facade of a 12-story building among the existing one- to four-story mostly residential structures nearby. This was accomplished with multiple setbacks over the height of the building, creating the feeling of a much shorter and smaller structure, which required extensive coordination with the architect to minimize transfer beams